Whale Oil Beamer Lingerer

This one’s for Whale Oil, who hit the MSM headlines over the weekend:

Whale Oil (aka Cameron Slater) reveals in the Sunday Star-Times:

Slater found his after the collapse of the security systems company, of which he owned 49%, in 2004 amid rancour with his business partner. The failure ruined Slater financially he had to sell his second home to pay the IRD socially, and eventually, psychologically. The depression he had battled for years became disabling.

As a result, he is unable to work. Because he had income protection insurance, he now receives 75% of his former salary.

Okay, so Whale, you’ve been 5 years out of work. So why do you, and the lowlifes who comment on your comments thread, denigrate people who are unemployed?

Just because you had the good fortune to have income protection insurance doesn’t put you in any greater moral position than those who could not afford it and ended up on the dole or sickness benefit.

And maybe it is time, Whale, for you to be subjected to an independent audit of your entitlement, as the National Party proposes for all sickness beneficiaries. I’m sure your insurance company would welcome that, just as Work and Income does for beneficiaries.

You could even allow me – as someone who worked as an advocate for ACC claimants and beneficiaries for many years – to nominate an independent doctor. I know all the right ones to move you on quickly.

One of the Devonport Doctors (ex-Navy), perhaps?

Systemic racism allegation needs follow-up

On Parliament’s last sitting day before the Easter recess, Sue Bradford asked oral questions of Social Development Minister Paula Bennett. Although Bradford made a follow up media release, the questions and responses largely fell below the MSM radar, possibly because the next day was Good Friday.

Essentially, what appears to have happened is that the Ministry of Social Development rounded up a number of Burmese refugees from several different Work and Income offices in the lower part of the North Island, and sent them to a dodgy fruit picking operation in Hawkes Bay where they were mercilessly exploited by an unscrupulous employer.

But Bradford’s final question, and Bennett’s limp repsonse, deserve some follow-up.

Why was it that only Burmese refugees were sent to this particular job? It seems to me there could be three possibilities:

  1. It was pure coincidence.
  2. The employer had asked for Burmese workers on “cultural affinity” grounds, and Work and Income meekly complied.
  3. Work and Income knew the job was dodgy, so deliberately sent workers with poor English and no knowledge of New Zealand employment law to minimise the likelihood of there being complaints.

Given the miniscule proportion of the population who are Burmese refugees, 1) above is about as likely as Taito Phillip Field becoming the next Prime Minister.

Either of 2) or 3) cast Work and Income in a very poor light indeed. Selecting workers for any job on the basis of their ethnicity, whether or not Work and Income knew just how dodgy the job was, is completely unacceptable. Bradford was correct to refer to the incident as indicative of “systemic racism”.

Let’s hope she follows this up when Parliament resumes. This incident warrants a full investigation, not the weasel words it got from Bennett last Thursday.